Long lines in Russia's direction at 'Vientuļi' border point

Since the previous week, a support point for Ukrainians has been working at the border inspection post Vientuļi. Here, though, a line forms not of those who have just fled the war, but those who go to Russia – to get their children or to go back to Ukraine, Latvian Television reported on June 12.

Why go to Russia? Mostly to return to their home places in Ukraine, the Ukrainians said.

“Let's go home, for a while, because we're from Kakhovka, the dam blew up there. We had a lot of relatives, we need to bring them here with a van, evacuate them from there,” Ukrainian Viktor said.

A woman wants to get back to Mariupol. She escaped by going through the front line. Back in the ruined city, she wants to get to sort out her documents. Another couple said they were going to get their children who had stayed in Russia.

A volunteer who is running the support point these days said she helped an 80-year-old woman the night before who was going back to Ukraine after several months spent in Poland.

“I put her to bed here, fed her. People are starving. Two days [of waiting], but there's just nothing here. It's summer, there's no water. Additional toilets will be brought here tomorrow,” said volunteer Diāna Kiseļova of the Society “Your Friends.”

The “Your Friends” association has provided a trailer, and volunteers work in shifts. But so far, the ones waiting in the queue had gone to the nearest homes looking for water.

The spokesman of the State Border Guard said, claiming that the problem had increased at the end of May, so he turned to the association.

“For the Russian Federation, border checks are taking place quite slowly. People stand in line, often for two days. They don't have water, not only the Ukrainian citizens,” said Aleksandrs Šalajevs, executive director of the State Border Guard's Office for Border Control and Immigration Control.

Moldovans are also in line to Russia. The volunteers say that the help point is intended for Ukrainians, but if Moldovans ask for coffee, they are not refused it in exchange for a donation. 

“We're standing here for a day and don't know how long we're going to stand. Everyone says it's the fault of the Russian Federation side because they further check people with Ukrainian passports. But we are suffering here therefore without water, without normal sanitary conditions,” said Moldovan Dmitry.

The fact that Latvia's external border has become a much larger transit point is also felt by those living in the border area. For several months there were Ukrainians who had recently also traveled back to Ukraine.

“A lot of people can't settle here. They are brokenheartedly waiting for the moment when things end, but nothing ends. How long will you wait? If they can't return to their district, then try to other cities, with relatives. Just start a new life,” added volunteer Jolanta Sauleviča-Logina.

A local volunteer who worked as a refugee coordinator until April estimated that the support point was badly needed here last autumn, but then they had failed to set it up.

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